LOS ANGELES – For the last 30 years, LA Times entertainment columnist Glenn Whipp has researched and reported on Hollywood films making their big debut.

What You Need To Know

  • Solstice Studios’ new road rage thriller “Unhinged” stars Russel Crowe

  • Planning for a July 1 release date

  • Many other summer blockbusters have been pushed back

  • Hopes to make $30 million of the $33 million budget

However, he has never seen a situation quite like this: a wide open road for an indie film like Unhinged.

“They have the whole theatrical landscape to themselves on the 4th of July weekend, which is typically a huge weekend in Hollywood,” Whipp said.

A road rage thriller, produced by Solstice Studios, Unhinged, stars Russel Crowe and plans to be first film out of the theater gates amid the pandemic. The studio head, Mark Gill, said it kind of happened by default.

“We had a release date for September 4 then COVID hit, and a little movie called A Quiet Place 2 landed on our date, we knew we couldn’t stay there, so we looked earlier,” Gill said.

Gill landed on July 1, the long holiday weekend. Until Unhinged came along, the first major studio film release planned was Christopher Nolan's Tenet for July 17, and Mulan on July 24. Many other potential summer blockbusters have been pushed back to the fall or winter.

“Typically a big movie like Tenet or Mulan chooses a weekend and other studios get out of the way of that movie. Studios don’t want too many blockbusters opening on the same weekend, they’re going to cannibalize each other’s business,” Whipp said.

The success of a film’s release is always a big deal because it is when studios usually make the most of their money, but these upcoming releases carry even more weight. At the end of the day, for the love of the industry, everyone’s after the same goal.

Now the question is, can Unhinged, or even Tenet save the movie theater world? Whipp says it is hard to imagine the movie-going experience completely back to normal this fall and winter, but if it is, there is going to be a traffic jam.

“All these moved to fall and that is the season for Oscars contenders and a lot of those movies are still there, then there aren’t going to be enough screens for all these movies. There’s a backlog of movies competing with those that were supposed to come out at that time,” he said.

How these films will share the road remains to be seen, but Unhinged is full speed ahead for its release.

“There’s a little superstition in it and a little this is when we released it and it worked then were going to keep doing it,” he said.

So with no other options than the July 4 weekend, Gill says he feels Unhinged will have demand. In the end he says he would be happy making $30 million of the $33 million budget. But will he even get that?

Some theaters have opened across the country, like in Georgie and Oklahoma, but the largest theater chains are still closed.